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Towards a greener golf?

15 Feb 2022

It is a fact that golf is a sport with a high environmental footprint: extensive watering, the use of phytosanitary products and the modification of natural areas are criticisms often attributed to these areas. However, many players in the sector have been working for several years to ensure that the practice is more in line with sustainable development.

Awareness and commitment of golf courses

Faced with the challenges posed by global warming, the world of golf seems to be getting involved. First of all, the French Golf Federation signed an agreement with the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB) in September 2021. Planned for a period of four years, a partnership has been established around the major themes of ecological transition. The agreement focuses on three areas: supporting the ecological transition of golf courses, raising awareness, and promoting their ecological actions.

Rethinking golf  

By 2030, the European golf industry is considering three scenarios that take into account various parameters: water availability, pesticides and climate change. Ranging from the most optimistic to the most restrictive, these scenarios allow the various players to understand future restrictions. This may refer to reduced activity periods, increased maintenance costs or infrastructure modifications. In addition, many golf courses in France and elsewhere are threatened by rising water levels. One thing is certain: the golf industry will undergo profound changes, but to what extent? This is what these three scenarios attempt to consider in order to improve the environmental footprint of golf courses.

the key role of golf courses in preserving biodiversity

Contrary to popular belief, a golf course is not just an infinite lawn, cut to the millimetre and heavily treated, commonly known as a “green”. On average, 50% of a golf course is made up of natural areas, where human intervention is consequently limited. Some French golf courses are part of the Natura 2000 network. Other golf courses are considered as nature reserves or parks. Nothing is all black and white. The French Golf Federation, for example, has set up a labelling system for owners who are concerned about protecting the biodiversity around their course. Through a voluntary approach, a golf course can obtain the “Golf for Biodiversity” label. To do this, it is necessary to contact naturalist organisations so that they can assess the biodiversity of the course concerned.

Innovation at the heart of golf courses

In recent years, environmental innovations have been on the rise in the world of golf. For example, electric robotic mowers are being developed to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and limit greenhouse gas emissions. Also in the electric field, new generation lithium-ion batteries are replacing lead batteries in golf carts.

Golf courses are not the only ones to make the ecological transition. Campsites are also making it.